Viewpoints

Paul Ryan’s “loosey-goosey” remarks showcase lack of character

President Donald Trump shakes hands with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., during an event to acknowledge the final passage of tax overhaul legislation by Congress on the South Lawn of White House in Washington, Dec. 20.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., during an event to acknowledge the final passage of tax overhaul legislation by Congress on the South Lawn of White House in Washington, Dec. 20. Associated Press

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Not Much Longer) made a curious comment Thursday about California’s congressional race outcomes.

“(California’s) system is bizarre; I still don’t completely understand it,” Ryan said. “There are a lot of races there we should have won.”

Well, yeah. There are a lot of races the GOP should have won. They lost them because of President Donald Trump, whom Ryan, the 2012 vice presidential nominee, didn’t really call out during the GOP primary or the general election of 2016.

Rep. David Valadao wasn’t supposed to lose. Nor was Rep. Jeff Denham. Those were two guys who looked fairly safe until Election Night 2018. Other California GOP incumbents, such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Rep. Steve Knight, and Rep. Mimi Walters were indeed on the bubble. It’s no major surprise they went down.

Naturally, Ryan couldn’t really believe his bad luck here. I am sure that Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the current House Majority Leader/Tactical Whiz whose main legislative function seems to be feeding President Trump tasty Skittles candy, was very reassuring to Speaker Ryan.

“No, Paul. We got this. Orange County is in the red bag, just like the yummy Skittles the president so enjoys.”

Of course, Ryan couldn’t just leave the “bizarre” remark alone. He also noted that “the way the absentee ballot program used to work, and the way it works now, it seems pretty loosey-goosey.”

“When you have candidates who win the absentee ballot vote and then lose three weeks later because of provisionals, that’s really bizarre. I just think that’s a very, very strange outcome.”

Hmm. Bizarre like the Georgia governor’s race? Or the loosey-goosey Florida senate race? Or the Kris Kobach/Donald Trump view that there are “millions” of illegal voters flooding American voting booths?

Caravans full, I’m sure.

Ryan wasn’t suggesting “anything nefarious.” No. Of course not, nor was he alleging that he was shocked that gambling was going on in his establishment. But this is how the GOP disinformatsya (Russian word—very popular with Trumpies these days) machine works.

Just throw it out there. See if it sticks. No evidence whatsoever. Good clean GOP fun, right?

A few hours later, sensing danger, Ryan’s spokesman said this: “The Speaker did not and does not dispute the results” of the election.

Except when he did on Thursday, pretty clearly.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla put out this statement in response: “It is bizarre that Paul Ryan cannot grasp basic voting rights protections … California works to ensure every ballot is counted properly and every ballot is accounted for. In the most populous state in the nation — and the state with the largest number of registered voters — this takes time.”

“That is why we have no excuse vote by mail, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and early voting. These reforms helped drive California’s historic registration and a 30 year high in midterm turnout.”

Of course, we all know that Alex Padilla is a Democrat. Padilla is also a small-d democrat, which, in short, means that he thinks it’s OK for everyone to vote, even Republicans.

Paul Ryan, alternatingly craven and then moralistic, would masterfully enable Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign and then slam him for whatever gaffe the presidential nominee committed that Ryan found useful to be against. Then he would be silent for stretches, waiting to see which way the wind blew.

Ryan, and, by extension, Kevin McCarthy — who once joked with the current speaker in 2017 that Trump and Rohrabacher were paid Putin operatives — must now realize that California’s election system isn’t bizarre, nor is it “very, very strange.”

What’s very, very strange is that Speaker Ryan could have done a lot to stem his party’s losses in California in 2018. He could have denounced Trump in 2016, particularly in Wisconsin, which Trump won by a hair’s breadth. Hillary Clinton would have probably been elected, and I’ll bet Paul Ryan would have continued as speaker in 2018. Heck, Ryan might have even been the 2020 GOP presidential nominee. No Trump to drag down the GOP.

But that would have required a moral compass, which Speaker Ryan lost some time ago.

Bizarre, really. Very, very strange how that happened.

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